Six areas identified for offshore renewable energy projects, as plan is launched for consultation

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 August, 2023 at 1:24 pm by Andre Camilleri

The first national policy for the deployment of offshore renewable energy has been launched for public consultation, Energy Minister Miriam Dalli announced on Thursday.

In a press conference on Thursday, the minister said that the primary vision for this policy is to offer energy sources which are affordable, clean, diversified, while also energy provision for the country.

She said that this is the first time that a public consultation is being done on such a policy, all in efforts to promote the private investor’s inclusion, as it promotes transparency.

“This step is a good one for the politics of clean energy of the country,” she said.

Dalli urged anyone who is interested to be active in the consultation process to do so in the coming four weeks, as the consultation phase closes at the end of September.

She said that the policy will be updated according to the comments received through the consultation.

On his behalf, and in giving a technical briefing head of the Water Services Agency Sandro Lauri, said that this strategy complements the government’s commitment towards a cleaner energy system.

He said that this strategy is a low carbon development strategy, a measure which was also promised in the electoral manifesto. This policy also promises to work with the private sector for the investment in a floating wind and solar system.

Lauri explained that Malta’s surrounding waters have been identified as an investment opportunity for the renewable energy sector, as it was identified that investing in more solar panels on land would be too costly.

He said that currently only 10% of all the country’s energy usage is coming from solar panels, whilst the remaining 90% is dependent on fossil fuels.

Apart from being costly, solar panels take up space, especially on private roof tops and are only providing a clean energy source alternative during the day.

He said that works on the identified new opportunities which Malta’s surrounding waters bring have started last year, wherein the government has done a market consultation process to seek what are the interest levels in this new sector.

In what he described as an “ad hoc policy”, he said that from the analysis and research done, the future renewable energy sources have been planned in areas which minimise the impact on other ongoing maritime projects.

In total there have been identified six key areas, which have been purposefully planned to be 25 nautical miles far from land, where there is minimal nautical activity.

He said that although “such projects will be floating” it does not mean that they can be done everywhere.

Moreover, the areas have also been identified where there is prominent wind, to make the best use out of this new technology.

On the consent needed for such offshore investments, Lauri said that there will be a one stop shop which will cater for all the investor’s queries and permissions needed.

Lauri also said that on its end Enemalta has already identified three sites for the connection of the grid, which are Maghtab, Marsaskala and Delimara.

On the price selling point, the minister said that the government is looking at the possibility of acquiring it through what are known as Performance based agreements, which ultimately will be bought by Enemalta.

One of the press conference attendees remarked that he is in the know of an English company which is already in speaking terms with entities to invest in the offshore energy, and asked how the ministry is going to ensure that small companies are also included.

On her end Dalli denied such a claim and said that the policy is still in its initial stages and that she is not informed of such “talks happening.”

Asked on the timeframe for when Malta will be seeing its first offshore investment, she said that it is heavily dependent on the expression of interest from private investors in the coming months. Moreover, she said that such major projects take up several years, which sometimes are also split into several stages.

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